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IPC Overview and Classification System

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is an innovative multi-partner initiative for improving food security and nutrition analysis and decision-making. By using the IPC classification and analytical approach, Governments, UN Agencies, NGOs, civil society and other relevant actors work together to determine the severity and magnitude of acute and chronic food insecurity, and acute malnutrition situations in a country according to internationally-recognised scientific standards.

The main goal of IPC is to provide decision-makers with a rigorous, evidence- and consensus-based analysis of food insecurity and acute malnutrition situations to inform emergency response as well as medium and long-term policy and programming.

IPC was originally developed in 2004 to be used in Somalia by FAO’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU). Since then, a global partnership of thirteen organizations is leading the development and implementation of IPC at global, regional and country Level. With over 10 years of application, IPC has proved to be a best practice in the global food security field and a model of collaboration in over 30 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia.


Common global system for classifying the severity and magnitude and identifying key drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition situation

There are three IPC classifications that distinguish Acute Food Insecurity, Chronic Food Insecurity and Acute Malnutrition, as specific decisions are needed to address each condition. IPC is conducted according to four mutually supporting functions: (1) Building Technical Consensus, (2) Classifying Severity and Identify Drivers, (3) Communicate for Action; and (4) Ensure adherence to protocols. Each function has a specific purpose and a set of guiding protocols to follow in order to ensure that the IPC analyses are rigorous, neutral and accountable.

A platform for building evidence-based technical consensus among key stakeholder

Situations involving food insecure and malnourished populations always involve multiple stakeholders and agencies, whose actions are much more effective if there is technical consensus on the underlying situation analysis. By providing a set of definitions and standards for classifying the diverse food insecurity scenarios and their impact on human lives and livelihoods, the IPC makes it easier for multi-sectoral stakeholders to identify priorities and facilitates the coordination of response efforts.

A process to consolidate wide-ranging evidence into knowledge for taking action towards food security and nutrition

IPC makes the best use of the evidence available and does so through a transparent, traceable, and rigorous process. In so doing, IPC aims to simplify complex analyses of food insecurity and malnutrition situations and provide a “big picture”, the best assessment of the situation in terms of how many people are food insecure and/or acutely malnourished, when, where and extent of food insecurity and/or malnutrition, and why this is happening. By using international standards, IPC results allow for area comparison; tracking the severity of the situations over time; indicating the changes in food insecure situations and, critically, changes in the required responses.

IPC Classification

The IPC Classification System distinguishes and links acute food insecurity, chronic food insecurity and acute malnutrition to support more strategic and better coordinated responses.

The protocols used by the IPC are harmonized across the three individual scales (IPC Acute Food Insecurity, IPC Chronic Food Insecurity, IPC Acute Malnutrition). This allows for the analysis of linkages between the three conditions and to makes it possible to detangle acute food insecurity, chronic food insecurity and acute malnutrition in support of a more strategic response analysis

Acute Food Insecurity

Chronic Food Insecurity

Acute Malnutrition

Strategic guidance to actions

The focus is on short-term objectives to prevent, mitigate or decrease severe food insecurity that threatens lives or livelihoods.

The focus is on the medium- and long-term improvement of the quality and quantity of food consumption for an active and healthy life.

The focus is on short-term objectives to prevent, mitigate or decrease high levels of acute malnutrition.

Specific area of interest

Food insecurity found in a specified area at a specific point in time and of a severity that threatens lives or livelihoods, or both, regardless of the causes, context or duration.

Food insecurity that persists over time mainly due to structural causes, including seasonal food insecurity.

Global Acute Malnutrition as referred by thinness of individuals

Classification Scale

5 Severity Phases

4 Severity Levels

5 Severity Phases

(1) Minimal/None

(2) Stressed

(3) Crisis

(4) Emergency

(5) Catastrophe/Famine

(1) Minimal or no CFI

(2) Mild CFI

(3) Moderate CFI

(4) Severe CFI

(1) Acceptable

(2) Alert

(3) Serious

(4) Critical

(5) Extreme Critical

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